This is a continuation of my recent post Emotional Marketing: What Makes Buyers Buy, where I talked about how humans are wired for emotional response and listed ways that should manifest in our marketing decisions. So today I’d like to discuss how and why storytelling is a way to captivate audiences.
Emotional Appeal Marketing
Stories activate multiple parts of the brain. A story is the only way to activate part of the brain so a listener turns the story into their own idea & experience.
We remember stories, unlike a list of facts and product benefits. That’s because a story paints a scenario for us in which we can put ourselves at the center. With the mounds of information thrown at us each day, stories help our brains make personal connections, doing the work to process all of the stimuli.
Overused words and phrases are ignored, therefore really have no storytelling value. According to the article Science of Storytelling, “Some scientists have contended that figures of speech like “a rough day” are so familiar that they are treated simply as words and no more.”
This is interesting to me; my inclination is to think that those old catchy colloquialisms would benefit a story. But physiologically, the frontal cortex—the area of your brain responsible to experience emotions—can’t be activated with these phrases. It’s something that might be worth remembering when crafting your next story.
Emotional Marketing strategy
Marketers must know their audience, specifically what resonates with them. As I pointed out in Part 1, humans quickly decide on a course of action based on an emotional response. Once the decision is made, we then find substantiating facts. It is essential that content connects with shared values. The more familiar you are with audience values, interests and preferences, the more likely your message will hit the mark and appeal to them emotionally.
Elements of a Good Story
As we walk through the elements of a good story, I’d like to use a brand that just about everyone is familiar with: Jared from Subway.
Every story has a protagonist. The protagonist is the main character, who connects with the audience and leads the way.
In our example, Jared is the protagonist. He connects with the target audience, dieters, and offers a solution to their weight-loss goals.
Another element of every story, the Antagonist, creates conflict, hindering the Protagonist from achieving his goals. For Jared, unhealthy fast food is the antagonist…or perhaps, self (making unhealthy choices.)
A story has to have a plot. And a plot with tension and an active struggle garners the most audience interest. Jared’s plot is to conquer temptations of an unhealthy fast-food society and achieve a healthy lifestyle.
Stories have a beginning, middle and end. The beginning of Jared’s journey is depicted with his “before” photo—showing him morbidly obese. The middle of the story introduces Subway’s healthy menu of options. And the end of the story is celebrating who Jared is now—at a much healthier weight.
For fast-food consumers who are battling with their weight and striving for a healthy lifestyle, the story of Jared resonates. They are able to connect with his struggle.
Visual Storytelling is the Foundation of Content Marketing
Jared’s visual of his gargantuan-sized blue jeans held up to his now slender physique symbolizes the struggle he went through to achieve his goals.
Visual storytelling is critical in today’s vast world of content marketing. Social Media platforms are driving visual content…visual stimuli is appealing and attention-grabbing.
Are you aware of how critical illustrations are in your marketing? Get this:
44% of users are more likely to engage with a brand using photos or other forms of media. (source: ROI Research)
That’s a whopping percentage.
How have you worked lately to incorporate visual elements to grab the attention of your audience? Does your marketing tell a story that your audience can connect with? Or is it filled with buzz words and less-than-thrilling facts about your product/service that are making your target yawn?